Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Making Cents: 4 Budget Tips for the Savvy Saver

Would you like to have more money in savings, either for travel, retirement, or a major purchase like a house or remodeling your house? Sure, we all would! But being able to save is easier said than done. Between necessary monthly expenses, revolving credit card debt, and unforeseen events, it can be hard to hang onto that little extra you were going to use as your nest egg. Here are some helpful hints for becoming a better budgeter so you can start maximizing your savings each year!

Tip #1-Write down what you spend
This one seems like a no-brainer, but in the age of credit card swipes and one-click online purchasing, we just aren’t keeping track of our expenses like we used to back in the old checkbook register days. Five dollars here for a coffee, ten dollars there for parking- it adds up fast, leaving you wondering where the money went at the end of the month. Try keeping your receipts in your pocket or purse throughout the day and then reconciling them to the balance information on your bank’s website or mobile app when you get home. For those of you who are tech-savvy, check out free spending tracker apps such as Mint or LevelMoney to keep your spending in check.

Tip #2-Set a goal
If you have a specific thing you are saving up for, you are more likely to actually save, according to the experts. Having a set goal in mind may be all you need to turn over a new leaf as a super saver. For example, if you and your friends want to have a Cancun getaway by the end of the summer, and you know your share is going to equal $750, now you know what you need to save and when you need to save it by. It’s as simple as that! Common goals for savings include purchase of a home or car, travel, a major appliance or electronic, or retirement. Pick your goal and stick with it!

Tip #3- Create a budget
This can be a tricky one, as we tend to think of our major bills only when mapping out a monthly budget. While rent, car payments and the electric bill are easy to remember when coming up with your budget plan, you also need to look at everything else you spend money on each month. How much do you spend on groceries? What about gas? How many times do you eat out per month? Do you get your hair and nails done at a salon? Be sure to write down literally everything you use money for in a given month so you can determine what, if anything, you can eliminate in able to work towards your savings goal.

Tip #4-Treat Yourself...Occasionally
So you’ve hashed out this comprehensive budget plan to help you reach your savings goal. Good for you! The only downside is that now you feel like you can’t do anything fun ever again. Just like dieting, saving money works best when you don’t feel as though you are depriving yourself. To turn saving into a good habit that lasts you for the rest of your life, it’s important that you don’t make yourself feel miserable over it. At the end of every week, do something nice for yourself- treat yourself to lunch or a latte, or make a (very small) purchase on a luxury item. This will not only boost your morale to get you to your ultimate savings goal, but will also prevent you from “bingeing” on a crazy-expensive purchase when you’ve reached your savings saturation point!

Do you have any handy money-saving tips that work for you? Please share in the comments section.

Monday, June 12, 2017

6 Camping Tips for a Fun-Filled Summer Adventure!

Summer is here- time to plan your family vacation! This year, why not skip the expensive resorts and overblown theme parks and head back to nature? A camping trip can be fun for all ages without breaking the bank. Here are some helpful tips so you can get the most out of your camping trip, whether it’s your first time in the wilderness or you are a seasoned outdoorsman (or outdoorswoman!)

Reserve a campsite
 You may think you can just load your gear into the SUV and head to the nearest campground to begin your outdoor adventure, but you’d be in for a rude awakening. Popular campsites can book up months in advance, especially during holiday weekends, so it is a must to call ahead and make a reservation.

Tent size matters
Do you want to share a large tent with your whole family, or would you prefer to have the kids in one tent and you and your spouse in another? These are things to consider before you head to the camping supply store. While you may enjoy the value of purchasing only one tent, keep in mind that this limits your privacy and also can be harder to put up and break down than a smaller tent.

Don’t cheap out on sleeping bags
 The quality of your sleeping bag largely determines the quality of sleep you’ll be getting on your trip, so it’s not a good time to skimp. Consider that this bag will need to fit your body and keep you comfortable in the outdoor conditions, so be sure to read reviews ahead of time to determine what’s right for you.

Follow woodburning restrictions
 Sure, there’s nothing quite like a roaring campfire, but if you live in an area that is in the midst of a drought, or if you have a naturally dry climate, you must check to make sure there are no woodburning restrictions prior to building a fire. Park rangers will not hesitate to fine you for an illegal burn, so be sure to check ahead of time.

Start a fire the first time!
When it comes to building a campfire, the actual process of getting it started can be tedious. Bring cotton balls smeared with petroleum jelly to ensure an easy start to your fire every time. Dryer lint also works as a great fire starter, if you want to have a use for all the lint you pull out of the trap.

One-pot meals for the win
 Cooking over a campfire or a portable camp stove can be great fun, but can also lead to frustrating cleanup. Keep it simple with one-pot meals that can be easily prepared and enjoyed with minimal cleanup afterwards. This blog has a bunch of great campfire recipe ideas that can be prepped at home ahead of time!

Does your family have a special tradition or pro tip for surviving the great outdoors? Let us know in the comments section.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Cooking with Chef Mark - How to Make Pita Pockets

Chef Mark is here to show you how to make pita pockets with yummy tasting tzatziki sauce.

Here are a couple of ingredients you will need:

  • Pita Pockets
  • Sliced Beef
  • Skewers
  • Plain Greek Yogurt
  • Pickles
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Thyme
  • Tomatoes
  • Green Peppers
  • Mint
  • Lettuce
This is a fun meal for the whole family. Enjoy!

Monday, May 29, 2017

4 Smudge-Proof Finish Options

    So, it’s been a while since you’ve upgraded your appliances and you’re thinking that with the Holidays coming up that this might be the right time to do it.  In looking for appliances you will find that while stainless steel is certainly the most popular, and available finish, it may not be the right finish for your household.        
    Stainless Steel, while very attractive, can be a challenge to keep looking great.  Black & White appliances are limited in availability…and may actually cost you more! 

Never fear, new finishes are here!

  There are several new finishes available in a variety of brands that can offer your kitchen a luxurious look, without the luxurious price. Here are 4 different finishes to look into:

 Frigidaire Gallery
  A very “Family Friendly” appliance.  Nice features at an affordable price, with a very popular smudge-proof stainless steel finish. For the families that cook!

Frigidaire Professional
 This line offers a smudge-proof finish, while offering a “Pro-Style” look. For the households that entertain.

LG Black Stainless
This new finish offers an “acid-treated” stainless which is then coated with a smudge-proof outer coating.  Very luxurious and family friendly.

GE Slate
GE offers 90% of their line of appliances in this rich new finish, perfect if you prefer more of a Satin Finish, not a High Gloss.

There are many more options to choose from, I have only listed a few.  Come see us today so that we can show you more options in Samsung and Kitchen Aid, we hope to see you soon!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Cooking with Chef Mark - How to Sharpen your Knife

You probably have seen a steel before while chefs sharpen their knives. Chef Mark is here to show you how to properly use your steel to make sure you knives in the kitchen stay sharp.

Make sure to keep your knife at a 20 degree angle throughout the whole length of your knife. Hone both sides of your knife to keep your blade even and straight in the middle. Honing your knife 5-6 time is recommended to get the most out of sharpening your knife.

Remember, a sharp knife is a safe knife!

Have any questions about using a steel for honing your knife? Leave it in the comments section.